A gourmet is a person who is knowledgeable in fine food and drink.
Are You a Gourmet?
What exactly does it mean to be a gourmet? Does watching
public television cooking shows on Saturday morning
while folding the laundry count? How about being fascinated
with Julia Child and having all of her cookbooks on
your Amazon wish list? Knowing what zest, garam marsala
and charcuterie mean, does this qualify you as being
a gourmet? Where did the term come from and what exactly
does it mean?
A gourmet is someone with a discriminating palate
who is savvy when it comes to fine food and drink.
The word comes from the French word groumet which
defines a person in charge of the wines at a meal.
While this definition is a start, most people think
they have a discriminating palate, but discriminating
between a Big Mac and a Whopper probably doesn't count.
What exactly are gourmets discriminating about? Who
decides what is and isn't gourmet? From my research,
I have come up with three things that qualify a person
to call themselves a gourmet. While not an exhaustive
list, qualifying in each of these three categories
is a good indication that you can call yourself a
If you still don't own a blender because you are
saving up for a Waring or refuse to brown your bagels
in anything other than a Dualit toaster, you are good
in the first category of gourmet, knowing your equipment.
Note that I don't say you need to own this equipment
to be a gourmet, just know what it is and have a sincere
desire to own it all someday, like when you win the
lottery and can actually afford it. A few of the necessities
in a gourmet kitchen include a Cuisinart food processor,
Emilie Henry bakers, All-Clad pots and pans, Viking
range, SubZero built in refrigerator, Kitchenaid mixer,
Espressione espresso machine, Wusthof knives, and
a Polder thermometer and timer. You will also need
to include fine china, silver cutlery and beautiful
table linens. Doing some calculations from the Williams
Sonoma site (which should be one of your favorite
places to shop), a fully equipped gourmet kitchen
including service for 8 would come to over $25,000.00
This figure doesn't even start to cover the many food
items you should have.
That brings us to our next category, food. Do you
know terms such as foie gras, sevruga, gravlax, fleur
de sel, truffles (not the chocolate kind) and herbes
de provence? Have you ever eaten any of them? If you
can answer yes to most of these, you are a definite
gourmet. A good gourmet kitchen will be stocked with
the finest wines, caviars, cheeses, produce, meats,
breads and pastries. It will also have multitudes
of herbs and spices as well as liqueurs and natural
extracts. Hundreds of volumes of cookbooks are also
a necessity and must include authors such as Jacques
Pepin, Simone Beck, James Beard and of course, Julia.
The last area that defines a gourmet is drive. This
means wanting to constantly learn more about fine
foods and wines. Taking vacations to France and Italy
are a start as well as visiting wineries, fish markets
and farmers markets everywhere you go. Food should
be an obsession, not just a past time. Magazines such
as Saveur, Cuisine, Cook's Illustrated, Fine Cooking,
Gourmet and Bon Appetit should dot the landscape of
your home. You should also have a strong desire to
take cooking classes and cooking vacations and your
ultimate dream would be to one day attend "Le Cordon
Bleu" cooking school in Paris. Yes, knowing French
is a strong plus.
If you can say you qualify in even two of these categories,
I would say you are a budding gourmet. Three would
mean you are definitely a gourmet. Now that you have
qualified yourself as such, don't hesitate to share
it with others. Remember, however, that they may want
you to actually cook something for them since they
assume all gourmets can cook. This, however, was not
one of the qualifying factors, so don't feel pressured
if actually using your gourmet items scares you. Instead
invite them to a gourmet restaurant and correct their
pronunciations of items on the menu. Knowing the equipment,
understanding the names and tastes of the foods and
having the desire to cook someday is all you need
to be a gourmet. Besides, who has time to cook when
you are so busy learning to be a gourmet?
About the Author:
Emma Snow is a gourmet and freelance writer. Writing
for Gourmet Living http://www.gourmet-living.com
and BBQ Shop http://www.bbq-shop.net